From the Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Kuniyoshi & Kunisada
[Image: Kuniyoshi Utagawa William Sturgis Bigelow Collection, 11.28900 Photograph © 2016 Museum of Fine Art, Boston]
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In the Edo period (1603–1868), when there were no televisions or magazines, Ukiyo-e served as the equivalent of modern-day pinups for celebrities and as an important medium for presenting the latest entertainment and fashion news. This exhibition showcases prints by Kuniyoshi Utagawa and Kunisada Utagawa, two talented Ukiyo-e artists who enjoyed enormous success in the late Edo period. Through these works, handpicked from the world-acclaimed Ukiyo-e collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Bunkamura Museum of Art hopes to provide visitors with an experience of Edo society.
Despite being fellow apprentices, these two artists differed greatly in style: Kuniyoshi took the public by storm with his dynamic images of warriors and his bold compositions, while Kunisada was known for his urbane portraits of beautiful women and the signature intricacy of his works. The men of Edo were likely captivated by Kuniyoshi’s depictions of heroism, identifying with the heroes and infatuated by his spirited, poised, and beautiful heroines. On the other hand, the women of Edo were surely enraptured by Kunisada’s dazzling Kabuki actors and aspired to the beauty of his sensual female figures. This exhibition aims to facilitate an instinctive appreciation of these works and explore the feelings that we as people alive today can share with Edo-period fans of Kuniyoshi and Kunisada.